The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens finally played their Week 12 contest Wednesday nearly one week after it originally was scheduled.
It’s all thanks to Baltimore’s recent COVID-19 outbreak, which forced the team to place 18 players on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list just last week. The league rescheduled the game three different times as a result.
But the Ravens’ issues aren’t over just yet. While they have removed a number of players from the aforementioned list, members of the team still were testing positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday.
So, why exactly did the league move forward with Wednesday’s game?
“We can say with confidence that there is no active infection among the players, coaches and staff on the Ravens sideline today,” NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills told reporters Wednesday two hours before kick off, via ESPN.
Sills cited the NFL’s efforts to conduct contact tracing before the game as a large contributing factor in the league’s decision. Additionally, every member of the Ravens’ traveling party for Wednesday’s game returned negative tests following their arrival in Pittsburgh.
“We can really drill down and understand, did the virus pass from Person A to Person B to Person C? Or are these separate strains of transmission that come out of the community?” Sills noted. “We take all the pieces of the puzzle together to continue to assemble a more clear picture of the outbreak. … We’ve also used a guiding principle of when it’s safe to resume and consider playing games, and that is when we know that transmission is understood to have stopped and that we don’t have concerns about ongoing individuals turning positive or being at risk. We’ve done that consistently throughout this outbreak with Baltimore.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated much of this during an appearance on NBC during halftime of Wednesday’s game.
“Our protocols are established with the health and safety of our players and all personnel, coaches included, in mind,” Goodell said, as seen on NBC. “That’s our first priority. And we’ve developed these protocols with our Players Association, and we believe that they’ve been very effective in identifying, isolating and controlling and containing the virus.
“In the Baltimore case, we were concerned about the containment,” he added. “You know, we saw a number of positives over the last 10 days. our health and safety people, our medical experts led by Dr. Sills did a wonderful job of tracing the virus and making sure that we understood where it was generated from, how it was spreading, and I think by having the delays of a couple days, that gave us the confidence that we understood where the virus was coming from, how it was continuing to spread and that we were in the last stage of that and felt comfortable the game could be played safely tonight.”
The impacts of the Ravens’ outbreak reach farther than Week 12, too. Their Week 13 contest against the Dallas Cowboys has been pushed to Monday after originally being scheduled for Thursday.